Becoming Clay

Time is like a zipper. The past has been determined, while the future remains open. The present is that very interval of interaction between what is yet to be into becoming what has been. For our interaction with the eternal God to be at all meaningful, He must necessarily experience time sequentially as we do since its creation. This profoundly implies the openness of the future being guided by God, if we follow His will, or else a deviate from it. In this openness of the future, along with our free-will, it is therefore possible and even likely that what God wills for our life and what actually happens may be two different things altogether. The zipper-like nature of time and the gracious merciful nature of God continuously interact, so that even if we disobey and change routes God’s will is powerful enough to meet us in our current “fork in the road” to guide us again in His calling–or even create an entirely new calling.

The sovereignty of God, then, is shown as being even more powerful–He is after all omnipotent. To create an open system for a creature with a profound free-will, guiding the future requires not the stringing of a puppet, but the conviction onto the heart of that creature in and through relationship into a loving bond where the created creature relinquishes his own sovereignty, gifted by the Creator, into the hands of His master. This is what it means to be clay in the Potter’s hands.

Free Water

Ted walks into a local coffee shop parched from his 5 mile-long jog.  He finds his wallet with only a dollar left, insufficient for an iced coffee he was anticipating.  Walking up to the counter he finds a young guy with messily spiked black hair, probably a senior in college.

“Hi, I’d like a water, please.”

“Sure thing,” the barista says, pointing toward the bottles on a white lit platform, “that’ll just be $1.50″

“Umm,” realizing the awkward situation of appearing too cheap to buy a bottled water, “I was hoping only for a cup of water with ice.”

“Okay…$0.50 then.”

“Wait, isn’t a cup of water free”

“Absolutely!  But, you wanted ice.”

Annoyed and, frankly, offended–“Excuse me!  Ice is only a solidified form of water and, therefore, comes with a free cup of water.”

“Well, sir, therein lies the problem.  A free cup of water is just that–a cup of water.  A free cup of ice is only ice.  However, you asked for a cup of water with ice.  You asked me to modify something that’s free.”

Playing now into this match of wits, Ted seeks to be more clever.  “Then, I would like a cup of water and a cup of ice.”

“Sure thing!  That’ll be $1.00.”

“Now, just you wait!  How is it that a ‘modified free order’, as you called it, is half that?  I’m sick of this!  I’m entitled to a free cup of water with ice.  Customer or not, iced water is free.”

“Ahh…that’s what this is about–entitlement.  The reason your second order is now a higher price is not due to what this shop asks of your request, it’s my own.  My wage is determined by your purchase.  Without a purchase my pay is only justified by my time clocked in their system to service their customers, you see, and not anything else.  Your request is not between you and the company, it’s between you and me.  If you bought a bottle of water, part of your purchase contributes to the wage set by my employer to pay me for servicing its customers.  As a courtesy, I can extend a hand of grace to give you a cup of water, a free item, and provide the service absolutely free.”

“Thanks for explaining all that.  I’m sure your college professors who, I’m sure, you’ve just copied all that rhetoric from Economics 101…”

Chiming in, “At least I’ve considered economics within our little attempt at an exchange,” the barista smirks.

“However, as you arrogantly forget a bigger picture in all this, I am a paying customer even though I may not be in this particular stay.  You see, my previous purchases have indirectly contributed to your wage since the money I’ve spent has helped accumulate the large piggy bank this little establishment pays you from, as all customers have since the day it opened.  Those purchases have thereby produced in me the title of ‘paying customer’, and I am because of that entitled to have made such a request as I have.  So, may I please have a cup of iced water?

“Correction–you were a paying customer whose business is much appreciated, so much that a cup of water as a token of appreciation may be plausible to be given.  Yet, not only did you modify a request that could have been fulfilled freely, you demanded it based on the pretentious presumption that you somehow were entitled to it.  Now, your continual return as a customer could be perpetuated by our service and keeping you content.  However, if your anticipated business is based on what you believe you are entitled, then this shop is actually at a loss.  If, rather, your understanding as a customer who enjoys our products and services is directly proportionate to the monetary exchange you can contribute in return, then both parties are truly happy–of course, as long as that exchange is fair.”  At this, the barista seemed pleased to possibly come to an agreement and, perhaps, even give the iced water after this guy has realized the error of his attitude.

“I would like to speak to the owner.”

“So, since you have failed at fulfilling your request by means of fair exchange you resort to the alternative, which you hope will force me to succumb to your demands?  I can easily exchange my services for payment and will happily pour your water in a cup of ice upon your agreement to do so for $1.00.”  

“No! Absolutely not!  I refuse to pay you for something I should be given absolutely free.  That’s it–I’m no longer returning to this place…”

“…Which you’re free to do.”

“This is precisely why I only frequent corporate chain establishments…”

“…Even though you totally love our coffee and you’re known to rave about us, but please continue.”

“My request was simple, and I cannot fathom how this discussion has gone this long or began even in the first place.  Here on, I will only go to places that treat me like I deserve.”

“So, you would rather take your business to a more familiar socialist environment where your entitlements are acknowledged.  I’m sure we’re not actually losing, then.”  Taking off his apron as a curly red-head shows up half past the hour, the barista concludes, “Oh yeah, by the way, I don’t actually work here.  I was just watching the place until my sister, the owner, got back from lunch.”

“Michael, was this yours?” his sister asks, handing him what he had prepared during the course of the dialogue.  With that he smiles at Ted, winks, and walks out the door drinking from a cup of iced water.

Check it out!

My wife, Thilini, started her own blog called “Through Dust” to serve as an outlet and medium for her inspirations and heart yearnings.  Myself, I’m currently in the process of launching a new blog from the perspective of a Christian insurance agent/broker/consultant/adviser–whatever term works best for you (agent for a brokerage firm).  That should help me get back into writing, and hopefully also serve to provide some perspective from a different angle on all that’s happening in American health care.

Until then, check out my wife’s recent post on this new, exciting blog that I’m happy to get behind–http://throughdust.wordpress.com/2013/10/12/the-unprecedented/

Loving a “Charlie Brown” Tree

“When all else fades one thing remains: Your love is still pursuing me.” – Daniel Gonzales, Celebration Church

Getting out of the car we smelled the scent of pine that enveloped the area. Dad and I enjoyed the tree hunt, and I of course picked out the fullest, greenest, and awesome-est tree for his budget. I would tell him the one I’d chosen, the lumber guy would take it to trim the trunk and nail the base, we’d strap it to the top of the car, my dad would hand the guy a $5 tip, and we’d proudly drive home listening for any movements on the roof. If, for some reason, my noble expertise wasn’t provided and, for some odd reason, Mom would assist Dad, then we would definitely get something less than par. One bare side would be missing a large portion of branches and most likely the tree was pitifully leaning to one side; we debated which side needed the wall’s cover the most. This tree would also probably be the cause of old childhood ornaments falling and breaking off of unstable branches. And, every now and then, it would likely be too small to stand proud on the ground and reach the ceiling, to which Mom would grab a side table, drape it with Christmas cloth, and attempt to fit presents around the legs. This tree would desperately need, as we learned to withhold our critiques and complaints, my mother’s unashamed and unconditional love.
Continue reading

REBLOG – “Merciful God?”

christophercate:

From one who was present at the horrendous “Dark Knight Rises” incident. Phenomenal writing with a thought-provoking response in her own perspective. Great read!

Originally posted on A Miniature Clay Pot:

July 22 – a note of explanation

I’ve tried to leave this post just as it was originally written because it was a heartfelt response after a very traumatic experience.  But I’m sometimes clumsy with words and even when I think I am writing clearly, there is always the reader who doesn’t know my heart or doesn’t hear the words the way they were intended.

I feel as though a few people have taken what I said and twisted it. When I wrote my post on Friday, I had a grand total of eleven blog  followers. Yes, eleven. I generally post on facebook and have had a loyal little group of readers that numbered thirty or so. That is who I generally write for.  People who know me  know that I dislike talking on the telephone. I’d pretty much rather clean a toilet than spend time on the phone. I…

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Start with a Shovel

With a handful of reed, I stuffed the wire guide to contribute to the 9-year old boy’s remade house. Immediately after the church service, just two days after arriving in Mozambique, members of the Celebration Church campus in Xai Xai head out to Jose’s house upon finishing lunch. Ladies with babies strapped to their backs hold a huge bundle of reed on their heads, grasping them with their hands to hold it balanced. Franco, originally from South Africa and the white minority in the church, utilizes his construction talent to fix the roof on this rebuild. We all take turns doing various jobs, and no one stops until the house is complete. The next few days even have their own construction project of building a kitchen for the church with a similar construct as the reed house–manually manufacturing cement for the floor and an open flame oven, building walls from scratch–then later, fixing a broken wall of another campus. All components of each project took every person who helped work to do so. Everyone was tired, but no one was miserable. People helped each other, conversed, and when a hand was needed one or two pairs of hands were always right there contributing. Whereas ‘serving’ is something that Americans have to think about and praise themselves for, Mozambicans just considered it life–not one effort to a thought was even made on the manner. Though we saw this as part of our “mission trip”, they saw it as Monday through Wednesday–nothing out of the ordinary except for a few Americans with t-shirts that said “Celebration Church“. We made conversation and learned about the people who would later etch their names in our hearts, forming the beginnings to relationships more akin to family–working never seemed so joyful!

Perhaps my greatest lesson was the one I hadn’t expected–ministry begins, not preaching behind a pulpit, but with a shovel in your hand. Continue reading

The God Particle

Thanks to the author of the article, Russ Jones, ReligionToday.com mentioned this blog post made last week–“What Should We Make of the ‘God Particle’ Discovery?”
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Regarding the amazing find of the Higgs Boson particle, many people see it as a way of disproving God. The idea that any aspect of the physical universe we can’t explain naturally must by necessity be “God” explained has been the false presumption by many theists. Therefore, new discoveries such as this are yet backfiring to such theistic claims–furthering the idea that there must be no God. However, this situation simply expresses the flaw of many theists who argue God’s existence in the gaps of our scientific finds–only showing atheism to be the perspective for those who wait for a better natural answer, while theists are shown to be the anxious ignorants. The problem is that our idea of God is all wrong–completely even! If there is one unique aspect of the Gospel message, it is that God is not the cop-out answer for that which we don’t know, He is the God of revelation. He isn’t the God of the gaps, but the God of completion.

Christians shouldn’t be scared of anything that seems to prove God out of the picture. Continue reading